Reviewed by Deborah Klugman
Ruskin Group Theatre
Through December 4
In his 1987 solo show, Time Flies When You’re Alive, writer/performer Paul Linke relayed the story of his first wife’s battle with breast cancer, the impact of her illness on his family, and the heartbreak of her death at age 37. The couple had three small children at the time, the youngest just turned a year. The play (later made into an HBO film) grew out of the eulogy Linke delivered at his wife’s memorial. He later expanded the narrative with two sequels, performing them together as A Time Trilogy at the Powerhouse Theatre in Santa Monica in 1999.
It’s Time, directed by Edward Edwards, continues in the same autobiographical vein, and with the same thematic emphasis on treasuring what time we have on Earth. His account begins in 1968, when he was a college kid unsure what to do with his life, until he happens upon an acting class where his talent is revealed, despite an embarrassing debut enacted under the influence of pot.
This introduction serves as a prelude for the piece’s main focus: his struggle to preserve some normalcy — recounted with colorful anecdotal detail — after the death of his children’s mother, followed by his meeting, courtship and marriage to his second wife, whose caring presence eventually brought healing and happiness.
It’s a poignant story, its potency underscored by Linke’s confiding manner, his ready eye-contact with his listeners, his modest mien and pungent wit. Sometimes, given the intimate space, it feels as if you’re talking with an old acquaintance over coffee — a funny, likable guy whose decision to share some things you never knew extends the humanity of you both.
Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Avenue, Santa Monica; Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 5 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through December 4. (310) 397-3244 or www.ruskingrouptheatre.com. Running time: 70 minutes with no intermission.